Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slow-Cooker New Mexican Vegetable Chowder

This is my favorite vegetable soup. Ten minutes of prep in the morning, effortless slow cooking all day in a crockpot, five minutes of finishing and dinner is served. A few cups of the soup are pureed in a blender and then stirred back into the soup resulting in a thick "creamy" chowder without the addition of milk or cream. Best of all, the vegetables I used are just a guideline. Swap out whatever is in season. Just keep the sweet potato for richness.

You may have noticed that I rarely peel vegetables in my recipes. So many nutrients are missed this way, along with the fiber. In all honestly, I like potato skins better than potatoes. So the only vegetable I peel in the chowder is the celery. Even easier when prepping on a busy morning.

This soup is a riff of a recipe from Bon Appetit Magazine that I have been using since 1994! I adjusted to make it work in a crockpot and, of course, added New Mexican green chile because..well..why not? My slow cooker is a million years old, so not very big. This recipe fits perfectly in my machine. If you have a larger version by all means double or triple the recipe. It freezes like a dream. Just don't add the spinach to the batch you want to freeze.  Add it during the last five minutes when reheating. The fresh flavor it adds to the soup is the perfect finishing touch.  Oh...speaking of finishing touches. Use a big, bold, spicy olive oil for finishing as it will really set off the smoothness of the chowder. Happy Fall!

Slow-Cooker New Mexican Vegetable Chowder
(serves 6-8)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 white onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 carrots cut into 1 inch pieces
1/2 head broccoli, separated into florets (cut larger ones in half)
1 10 oz package, organic frozen corn (or fresh in season)
1 fresh New Mexican chile, chopped
6 cups organic vegetable broth (homemade or boxed) 
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon dried Italian parsley (or 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped)
4 handfuls baby spinach leaves
sea salt
black pepper

Heat medium sized skillet over high heat. Add olive oil, onion and celery. Saute for 4 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add then garlic and saute another minute.

Pour onion mixture into the bowl of a crockpot. Add next 5 ingredients and broth. Stir in bay leaf, cayenne pepper, parsley and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper. 

Cover crockpot and set to High. Cook for 6-8 hours or until vegetables are soft. Remove 3 cups soup and puree in a blender. Add the puree to remaining soup, along with the spinach. Stir and allow to sit for 5 minutes uncovered. (Turn crockpot off).  Adjust seasonings if necessary and serve immediately in large bowls with an excellent extra virgin olive oil drizzled over the top.

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It is "Slow-Cooker" week at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite slow-cooker recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. Bloggers' recipes will be posted at noon on Thursday.


I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Red Swiss Chard with Roasted Garlic & Balsamic

I have had so much success with growing Swiss chard this season. The leaves are huge...but still sweet...and the stems remain really tender. I have found many ways to prepare this delicious green...stuffed, chopped and added to soups or scrambled eggs, layered into casseroles (try chard lasagna!) and eaten as a salad. But my favorite way is sauteing with onions and garlic.

This is "Roasted Garlic" week at Food Network and I roasted a dozen heads of garlic to use in many different recipes. One of my favorites is also one of the simplest. Sauteed greens with onion, roasted garlic and pine nuts. Healthy drizzles of excellent quality extra virgin olive oil and good aged balsamic vinegar take this to over-the-top deliciousness. Serve as is or do what I do. Pile the prepared greens over grilled sourdough or french bread for a different take on bruschetta. This with a bit of Parmigiano-Reggiano and a glass of wine make a perfect simple supper.

The recipe for roasted garlic is one you will want to keep handy. Roast a number of heads at the same time. You will find many ways to use. See some suggestions as the end of this post. Enjoy!

Red Swiss Chard with Roasted Garlic & Balsamic
(Serves 8)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
6 lbs red Swiss chard
1/2 small white onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons pine nuts
cloves from 1 small head roasted garlic (recipe follows)
2 tablespoons pure balsamic vinegar
sea salt
black pepper

Prepare chard:  With a sharp knife, cut stems from chard leaves. Fold each leaf in half lengthwise and cut off the center rib.(discard ribs). Chop stems into 1 inch pieces. Roll up each leaf and cut into 1 inch slices. Chop the slices into pieces about 2 inches.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chard stem pieces and onions. Sprinkle with a large pinch salt and pepper. Saute until chard is soft and onion is golden brown and beginning to caramelize. (about 7 minutes) Add additional olive oil if the pan seems dry.  Add the chard leaves, red pepper flakes and pine nuts. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the chard is soft. Add roasted garlic cloves and saute for an additional minute. Stir in the balsamic vinegar.

Remove from heat. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve immediately drizzling additional olive oil over the top if desired..

Roasted Garlic 
You can make this with as many heads of garlic as you wish. This no-recipe recipe is as follows:

With a sharp knife, cut off the very top of each head of garlic...you should just see the very tip of the garlic cloves after cutting. Remove the first layer or two of papery garlic skin from the garlic head, not too much, you want the garlic cloves to remain attached. Place the garlic root side down in a small ovenproof pan or baking dish, you want the garlic to fit tightly in the pan, so the pan size will depend on the number of garlic heads you are roasting (make more than you need...the roasted garlic will last a few days...and you will use it in everything!) Drizzle cut side of garlic with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt (I like grey salt) and freshly ground pepper. 

Cover pan tightly with foil and roast in a 375-degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Garlic should be very tender. remove the foil, drizzle with additional olive oil and continue roasting for 10 minutes more.

At this point you can squeeze the garlic from the cloves directly onto toasted french or sourdough bread which is lovely...or you can squeeze all the garlic into a small bowl, mash with a wooden spoon and drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil to create a smooth paste. Taste and add additional salt/pepper if desired. Garlic and/or paste can be stirred into smashed potatoes, added to toasted/grilled bread, added to roasted or steamed vegetables, stirred into sauces, as a topping for pizza, etc. Once you taste it you will be inspired to add it to almost everything!

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It is "Roasted Garlic" week at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite roasted garlic recipe? Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

The Lemon Bowl: Crispy Garlic Baked Chicken Breasts
Jeanette's Healthy Living: 
Roasted Garlic Tomato Pasta Sauce
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: 
Baking Sheet Spaghetti with Roasted Garlic, Peppers & Eggplant
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Red Swiss Chard with Roasted Garlic & Balsamic
Red or Green: 
Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Garlic
Taste with the Eyes: 
Crusted Ahi with Roasted Garlic Tahini
Dishing With Divya: 
Baked Salmon with Garlic and Herbs
Virtually Homemade: 
Roasted Broccoli and Garlic with Feta Cheese
The Cultural Dish: 
Roasted Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Domesticate Me: 
Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Garlic, Goat Cheese and Pepitas
The Mom 100: 
Roasted Garlic and Tomato Bread
Roasted Garlic Recipes Worth Worshipping 
FN Dish: 
10 Excuses to Eat Roasted Garlic


I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Cake

So it is the first full week of October and there is definitely a chill in the air here in Northern New Mexico. The temperature was 30 degrees when I left for yoga this morning and the leaves are turning beautiful shades of gold, red, maroon and orange. You can smell the pinon wood burning in fireplaces throughout the neighborhood and last Saturday's Farmers' Market had bushels of apples, peppers, winter squash and fall flowers.  And pumpkins...lots of pumpkins.

Happily, this is "Pumpkin Week" at Fall Fest so, while I used canned in this recipe, I was inspired by the beautiful fresh pumpkins displayed at the market. Yes...fall is here.

This cake is easy to make, very moist, last for days and is delicious. While the cake bakes, your home will be filled with the amazing scent of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg. I adapted the recipe from Gourmet Magazine but "healthified" it by swapping white whole wheat flour for some of the white, eliminated all the white sugar and used coconut sugar and used almond milk for flavor and lightness. Then, to gild the lily, I added dark chocolate chips. I made the glaze from creamed coconut milk, but feel free to use your favorite frosting, glaze or even dust with powdered sugar if you prefer.  Enjoy! You will make this cake all season.

Note, I am in Taos which is at 7000 feet. The recipe posted below is the "regular" recipe and I added the high altitude adjustments at the end.

Pumpkin & Chocolate Chip Cake
adapted from Gourmet Magazine
(12 servings)

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (at room temperature)
extra virgin olive oil for cake pan
1 1/4 cup organic white whole wheat flour
1 cup organic unbleached flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups canned solid-pack pure pumpkin (do not use pumpkin pie filling)
3/4 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 large eggs
1 1/4 cups coconut sugar
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt pan with olive oil. Dust with flour and set aside.

Sift flours, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and salt into a  medium-sized bowl. Set aside. Whisk together pumpkin, almond milk, and vanilla in a small bowl. Set aside.

Add the butter to the bowl of mixer and beat until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes at medium speed.) Add the sugar and beat until well mixed (about 3 minutes more).  Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. 

Reduce speed to low and add 1/3 flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Add 1/3 pumpkin mixture and beat until just incorporated. Repeat steps until both flour and pumpkin mixtures are incorporated into the batter. Do not overmix. Stir in chocolate chips.

Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 15 minutes. Turn out cake directly onto wire rack and allow to completely cool. Drizzle Coconut Cream Glaze (or topping of your choice) over cake and serve.

Store cake in an airtight container or well wrapped with saran wrap and then foil. Cake can be kept at room temperature 4-5 days.

Coconut Cream Glaze
1 7 oz box organic creamed coconut, unsweetened
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
sugar, coconut sugar, honey or maple syrup to taste
almond milk to thin

Add creamed coconut, cocoa powder, salt and vanilla to a small bowl. Stir to combine. Add 2 Tablespoons of preferred sweetener. Add additional sweetener to taste. Thin with almond milk if needed to achieve a pourable consistency. Drizzle over cake, cookies or fresh fruit. 

Store in refrigerator. Glaze with thicken as it sits. Thin with additional almond or coconut milk as needed.

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High Altitude adjustments for cake:
Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees
Decrease sugar by 1 tablespoon
Increase milk by 2 tablespoons

It is "Pumpkin" week at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Bacon and Souffle: Easy Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Cake
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies 
The Cultural Dish: Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts 
Haute Apple Pie: Pumpkin Bread Truffles 
I Am Baker: Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow 
Taste With The Eyes: Savory Little Pumpkins with Labneh, Zaatar and Pumpkin Seed Oil


I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos."  Please visit and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Smokey Cauliflower Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano

Fall weather has hit northern New Mexico big time. The past few days have been beautiful with temperatures in the mid to high 70s during the afternoons. But...the nights. Oh, the nights. I woke up this morning to 34 degrees. So when Food Network assigned us cauliflower for this week's Fall Fest roundup, I immediately thought of soup.

I love this recipe. Creamy cauliflower blended with sauteed leeks, garlic, chipotle chiles and smoked paprika for a bit of heat & smoke, perfect for lunch or an easy dinner paired with salad and good bread. Just what I want when the nights are chilly. I keep it light with vegetable or chicken stock and nut milk (almond or coconut) instead of heavy cream. There is just a touch of Parmigiano-Reggiano for flavor and richness without adding a ton of calories. Delicious, healthy, spicy... It just doesn't get better than that. Enjoy the soup!

Smokey Cauliflower Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano
6 main dish servings

extra virgin olive oil
1 large leek, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 chipotle chili pepper, chopped
1 tsp smoked paprika
4 cups (approx) organic vegetable or chicken stock (or homemade)
1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup almond or coconut milk
sea salt
black pepper
1/2 cup chopped green onions or chives

In a large stockpot, saute leek and celery in 2 tbsp olive oil until softened. (about 6 minutes over medium-high heat) Add garlic and cook for another minute. Add cauliflower, chipotle, paprika and small pinch each salt and pepper. Saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add enough stock to cover vegetables. (you may not need all 4 cups). Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are very tender.

Using an immersion blender, puree soup until very smooth. (Alternatively, you can process in batches in a processor or blender but be careful as the soup is very hot). Stir in the cheese and milk and continue cooking until cheese is melted. (about 5 minutes). Add additional stock or milk if soup is too thick. 

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve in large bowls topped with a drizzle of best quality extra virgin olive oil, additional shredded cheese and a sprinkling of chives.

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Additional cauliflower recipes you may enjoy:

It is "Cauliflowerweek at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite cauliflower recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 
The Lemon Bowl: Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken with Cauliflower 
Feed Me Phoebe: Vegan Cauliflower Soup with Red Curry
Jeanette's Healthy Living: Hash Brown Cauliflower and Potatoes
The Cultural Dish: Cauliflower and Leek Soup
Dishing with Divya: Gobi Manchurian
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Smokey Cauliflower Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano
Red or Green: Cauliflower and Peppers Pasta with Spicy Pesto
Swing Eats: Cauliflower T-Bone Steaks with Olive, Lemon and Parsley
Dishin & Dishes: Curried Cauliflower Chowder
Domesticate Me: Three Cheese Cauliflower Gratin
Weelicious: Vegetarian Tagine
Devour: 5 Reasons to Make Cauliflower Immediately
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Cauliflower Breadsticks
Taste With The Eyes: Spiced Roasted Cauliflower with Walnut, Cilantro, Mint
FN Dish: Reasons to Reconsider Cauliflower (recipes)


I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos ." Please visit and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Apple & Chocolate Cake

Happy Fall everyone! Can you believe summer is over? It has been rainy and cool the past couple of months so it has not felt much like summer in Taos. (But the rains have been amazing helping to end our drought. Now we need the rains to move to Napa!) I was at the beautiful farmers' market in Santa Fe, New Mexico last weekend and, while there were tons of end-of-summer produce like tomatoes, zucchini, corn, berries, peaches and peppers, many vendors had bushels of apples ready for sale.

Apples always remind me of fall. The scent of them baking in the oven, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg is home to me so it is the perfect item to kick off this year's Food Network's Fall Fest. The schedule is as follows:

25: Apples

2: Cauliflower
9: Pumpkin
16: Roasted Garlic
23: Slow-Cooker-themed 
30: Halloween-themed

6: Brussels sprouts
13: Carrots
20: Favorite Thanksgiving side

4: Holiday cookies
11: Holiday-themed beverage 
18: Holiday side dish 

My apple submission? How about Apple & Chocolate Cake?"  Inspired by a cake in the Moosewood Restaurant Book-Desserts, their version first introduced me to the concept of using vinegar and oil in a cake instead of butter and eggs. Thank you Moosewood!  This cake is also delicious without the apples..a bit lighter and more "cakey". The apples make it dense, moist and really fudgy so you have options depending on what type of cake you want. Try both versions (exact same recipe...just leave out the apple) and please let me know what you think. I have also made this cake using figs, zucchini and pears in place of the apples. As you can tell, I love this recipe. Hope you give it a try. Please tell me what you think in the comments section at the end of this post.

Apple & Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups organic unbleached flour
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup organic white sugar (or coconut sugar)
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup best quality unsweetened premium cocoa powder (I like Scharffen Berger)
1 Tsp kosher salt
2 Tsp baking powder
2 cups cold water
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp pure balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups shredded apple (I use a box grater or food processor with the shred disk)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a bundt cake pan using extra virgin olive oil. Add the first 6 ingredients to the bowl of a stand mixer. Stir with a wooden spoon to mix. Add rest of ingredients and stir, using the paddle attachment, until just incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 45 min to 1 hour. Test for doneness by sticking a skewer, chopstick or knife into the center of the cake. If your tester is clean when you remove, the cake is ready. Rest on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Invert onto cake plate and allow to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. (This is also delicious with a chocolate glaze drizzled over the cake and served with ice cream or fresh fruit.) 

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It is "Apple" week at Food Network's Fall Fest roundup. Do you have a favorite apple recipe?  Share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one.
The Lemon Bowl: Rainbow Chopped Salad with Apples and Avocados
Weelicious: Apple Butter Turnovers
The Cultural Dish: Apple Crostata
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Apple and Chocolate Cake
Red or Green: Spiced Applesauce
Virtually Homemade: Apple Almond Salad with Honey Mustard Dressing
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Caramel Apple Cake
Devour: A Week of Apple Recipes
Taste With The Eyes: Bleu Waldorf Petrale Sole
FN Dish: Celebrate Apples with Crisps, Crumbles and Cobblers


I have started sharing my newest blog "California Girl in Taos ." Please visit and let me know what you think.